March 1, 2024

Benguet caretaker Rep. Eric Go Yap of ACT-CIS party-list has pushed for a congressional inquiry on the regulation of mining practices in the country particularly in the province.
Yap, citing the landslide that recently killed 162 jade miners after a pile of mine waste collapsed in Myanmar, said the inquiry would delve into the regulations within mining sites in the country.
“This is an eye-opener. It can happen anywhere and anytime. Ito yung gusto natin na maiwasan na mangyari sa Benguet, at sa ibang probinsya pa na problema rin ang mining. Hindi namimili ng panahon ang kalamidad o aksidente,” Yap said.
He said he would call for a congressional inquiry upon the resumption of the regular session of the Congress.
“Bukod sa sisilipin natin kung sustainable mining ang kanilang pinapractice, titignan rin natin kung may labor regulations silang nilalabag,” he said.
The solon said the province needs to think long-term and prioritize how to sustain its natural resources.
“This is not a matter of being pro – or anti-mining. Mining is not the problem itself; the real problem lies on the standards and regulations of mining activities and on the non-compliance of mining companies,” he said.
According to the report from foreign news service Aljazeera, those killed in the Myanmar jade mining site were informal workers scavenging the waste left by a large-scale mining company.
In Benguet, the mining municipality of Itogon has suffered the most loss nationwide during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong in September 2018 where more than 90 people were buried alive in a massive landslide in Barangay Ucab.
Thousands of individuals, mostly dependent on mining, were also displaced by the disaster as the Mines Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has declared most of the mining barangays of the town as having very high to critical susceptibility rating to landslides.
Most of these miners and their families are working as small-scale miners in the old mining site of the Benguet Corporation.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau OIC Regional Director Fay Apil said there are only three minahang bayan in the Cordillera – two of which are in Benguet – Itogon and Bakun. 
In Itogon, the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association is currently operating and granted with small-scale mining contract while Bakun is yet to apply for its mining contract, according to the MGB.
The most recent minahang bayan approved in February this year is located in Apayao, but the applicant needs to secure the requirements from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples prior to applying its small-scale mining contract.
The MGB said the region has a total of 32 applications for minahang bayan as of December 2019. – Ofelia C. Empian